Robert Durst admitted to murdering Susan Berman, according to a testimony given by the alleged killer's longtime friend Thursday.
"I had to", Durst said, according to Chavin.
Durst invited Chavin to eat because, according to Chavin, he wanted to discuss Berman as well as the fate of his first wife. He said: "It was her or me, I had no choice". His testimony is the most direct evidence to date linking Durst to Berman's death. He said Durst "nearly immediately" brought up the subject of their Harlem restaurant dinner and voiced regret over his participation in "The Jinx". The case went cold for 15 years before Durst was apprehended by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in New Orleans on a California murder warrant.
Durst was sentenced to seven years in prison on a weapons charge following his arrest in New Orleans and, as part of a plea deal, was transferred to Los Angeles in November from a prison in Louisiana.
Durst has pleaded not guilty to murder in the fatal shooting of Berman.
An attorney for Durst in cross-examination on Friday suggested Chavin had earlier described the conversation differently.
He said he was in "extreme shock" and "disbelief" after learning later that Durst had dismembered his neighbor, Morris Black, in Galveston, Texas, in 2001, because he believed Durst was not capable of such of hands-on violence.
At the time, Durst was living under an assumed name in Texas and pretended to be a mute woman, prosecutors said. The couple, married in 1973, were officially divorced in 1990 with Durst citing "spousal abandonment".
Kathie Durst's brother, meanwhile, said he's never met Chavin and had no idea he was the "secret witness" that prosecutors called early for fear Durst might try to have him killed.
Chavin described himself as "waffling" at the time and said he should have simply said that he didn't want to talk to them about it.
His feelings began to change after the Durst saga took a particularly freakish turn. "Nobody else had reason to harm Susan Berman". Superior Court Judge Mark Windham ordered his identity kept secret even from the defense until January 31 and from the public until he took the stand Wednesday.
After growing exhausted of police asking about his missing wife, officials said, Durst moved to the Houston area in 2000, shortly before Berman's death, and even began dressing as a woman to avoid detection.
But prosecutors say that Durst killed Berman as she was preparing to speak with police who had reopened the investigation into Kathleen Durst's disappearance in NY. Within a few weeks, she was dead.
"I just didn't want to tell the truth", Chavin said.
Prosecutors had kept Chavin's identity secret until the deposition, citing fears that Durst might have him murdered to prevent him from testifying. "We have to do what we can to protect him". "We have to protect Bob". Chavin testified that he found it very hard to believe what Berman had told him.
"This is a best friend who admitted to killing my other best friend". "This is not easy".
Durst's lawyer suggested Chavin fabricated the so-called confession to curry favor with Douglas Durst, who ran the family's NY real estate development empire, feared his older brother and wanted him behind bars. The 72-year-old man testified that he was later "flabbergasted" to learn about Berman's death during a phone conversation with a New York Times reporter who has long covered Durst.